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480b, 206b, 500c powerline patrol


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Looking for some information with people with actual operating experience with these two aircraft. I have the possibility of getting a 500hr/year contract flying powerline patrol. Major caveat is that the company requires 5 million in insurance which rules out R44 or anything piston.

 

That narrowed me down to the 480, 500, 206 market. When not flying the powerline contract (winter and summer) I would like to get into light 133 work and possibly 137 work doing ag spraying. Also the helicopter will be used lightly (50 or so hours) for short tours mainly during the winter season but it must carry 4 pax.

 

From what I have found it seems that operating costs are pretty similar for all models. All seem to burn 20-25 gal/hr, all are running some form of the RR250, and all seem to have a high reliabilty. 480 and 206 seem to cruise at 110kts while 500 will cruise at 120-125kts. Useful loads for all helicopters are close (within 100-150lbs) Purchase prices seem to be in the 500-600k for oldish good condition 480b, 300-400k for high TT 206/500 but with decent component times.

 

Any and all operating experience would be greatly appreciated. Also if any of the information I listed seems incorrect please let me know. I don't expect to pick a winner from information on here but hoping I can at least get one off the list.

 

Thanks,

 

Jim

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I guess my question is can you actually get 4 midwest folk into a 500? Also Tenacious...why was the 500 so much better?

 

As for the R66 it could be a contender if it wasn't 800k to purchase.

 

Why would you discount the 500 if I plan to do a little spraying with it? Seems like the 500 would be great for ag spraying.

 

I have heard maintenance on the 500 is pretty awful as well. I've heard just about anyone with an A&P could work on the 206.

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I haven't heard of too many issues with the 500 other than parts. In some ways the 500 is simpler due to no hydraulic system. Based on the history of the 500 and 206, I believe I would prefer to spray in a 500. It has a much better survivability history. ask the guys who flew the OH6's in VN. I was told by an experienced pilot that if you have to crash, do it in a 500.

 

Based on how complex helicopters can be, I am not sure I would like to fly any helicopter that just any A&P worked on. Yes, you can, but even if they use the maintenance manual, it will take them longer and there are all sorts of little things the maintenance manual doesn't really cover.

 

You might want to be careful. I think you are trying to do too many different things with one machine.

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I wouldnt get a 500C. A 500D on the other hand can also be had near that price range. What Altitude is the service territory at?

I have no experience with the enstrom, I love 500s for the superior manouverability, and visability, and speed. Oh and others said, crashworthiness it beats everything else made IMO. But the jetranger will be slightly cheaper to maintain and easier to find a mechanic & pilot for. And it does have more rotor inertia in the event of a engine failure.

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AS fay as paload, you will get 3 plus a pilot in a 500. 3.5 plus a pilot in a 206. Unless you plan on flying kids arounds or people under 100 pounds that .5 is useless.

 

If you are going to do VR 133 work the 500 is by far the best option.

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What do you have against the C? Service altitude will all be below 2000' temperatures in summer rarely in the 90s (except this summer)

 

The VR work will be such a small portion of business. It would mainly be small one time jobs. Maybe some hunting work in the fall. Tour business will probably exceed the VR work. Tour work will probably be families of 4 (that cant fit in a 44) or taking 2 couples up at once. The families of 4 should be fine in the 206 and I even think the 2 couples will be fine if the woman are nice to look at ;) From what I have heard 4 pax in a 500 is damn near impossible and that seems to be what I am getting from here.

 

Rick, I appreciate the words of caution but helicopters are meant to be highly adaptable and utilitarian. As an operator you can't afford to have $400,000 sitting around not making money. Keeping it busy for the majority of the year is going to be very important. Powerline and tour work requires nothing special and hooking up a cargo hook and or spray system could be done in hours to meet demands as they come.

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I guess my question is can you actually get 4 midwest folk into a 500? Also Tenacious...why was the 500 so much better?

 

Much better slow flight handling, survivability, lighter=more available power in windy conditions, better visibility. A 500C would be fine with 2-3 people. We fly 369A's. Great for landing in tight areas too if you need to make a call or look at something from the ground. Don't know about ag but I don't know why it wouldn't be great for that too.

 

If you are thinking of putting 4 pax + 1 pilot in a 206B and actually getting off the ground good luck. To get beyond 3 pax for tours you are into a whole other class of aircraft.

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A 206 over a 500 for ag due to swath width...if you will only be spraying small fields and not very often then the 500 will suffice just fine...

 

Just curious, why is the swath different? The 206 isn't much wider and the payload isn't that different. Can't you put a similar size rig on each? That being said, it is true that I have only seen 206's or OH-58's with ag set ups.

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Just curious, why is the swath different? The 206 isn't much wider and the payload isn't that different. Can't you put a similar size rig on each? That being said, it is true that I have only seen 206's or OH-58's with ag set ups.

 

Swath is dependent on rotor diameter. 206=33' 500=26'. You are only supposed to have a boom 80% of the rotor diameter.

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What do you have against the C? Service altitude will all be below 2000' temperatures in summer rarely in the 90s (except this summer)

 

Personally, I have no experience with C's. But a friend who used to use them for VR work said they are grossly underpowered. (C18 vs C20) I'm sure they would be ok for tours at that altitude, but I dont know about VR. Also, there are alot of D's on the market for reasonable prices.

 

The small rotor diamater T mentioned is the same reason the 500 is great for confineds and powerline work.

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Swath is dependent on rotor diameter. 206=33' 500=26'. You are only supposed to have a boom 80% of the rotor diameter.

 

 

I know its is suppose to be 80% but last year I was working with a company in Ms," no name needed" and they use better than 80% matter of fact it was close to 100%. Better check with the company you plan to fly lines for too. Most prefer or want the 500 because of the mobility. Good luck

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Rick, I appreciate the words of caution but helicopters are meant to be highly adaptable and utilitarian. As an operator you can't afford to have $400,000 sitting around not making money. Keeping it busy for the majority of the year is going to be very important. Powerline and tour work requires nothing special and hooking up a cargo hook and or spray system could be done in hours to meet demands as they come.

 

Jimbo- the problem is your tasks are pretty diverse. The 206 kinda sucks for tours. There is little to no visibility from the back seat to look out the front windscreen like in a Robbie R44/R66 or Enstrom. Same thing with the 500. Frankly I don't think you can get anyone over 5-5 in the back seat of a 500 comfortably.

 

I see 206 spray rigs all the time and used 206's are everywhere right now, starting at 200K and going to $1M.

 

I loved my very short time flying a 480B, it would work well for tours as far as lift capacity and visibility, and would work well for powerline work due to an EXTREME amount of visibility....not the limited view of a 500 or even a 206. I don't like all the limitations of a 206 and like someone already posted, not the best on a warm summer day with all 5 seats filled....although a few of them are lighter weight and do ok.

 

I guess I would forget the ag work and get a 480. Plenty of power for lift work too. Downside to the 480..make sure you have a mechanic nearby that is knowledgeable working on them.

 

Plus to the 206...lots of parts and mechanics around.

Edited by Goldy
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Personally, I have no experience with C's. But a friend who used to use them for VR work said they are grossly underpowered. (C18 vs C20) I'm sure they would be ok for tours at that altitude, but I dont know about VR. Also, there are alot of D's on the market for reasonable prices.

 

The small rotor diamater T mentioned is the same reason the 500 is great for confineds and powerline work.

 

A C would be great for power line inspection and doors off would be good for tours with 3 pax. It is basically a 1300 lb heli with 317 SHP and unlike the 206B it will get off the ground at max GW. Good for VR but you would have to strip it out and pick small loads only, probably not a real money maker but you're not going to pick that much more with a C-20. A 500D would be better in all aspects but a C can be had for much cheaper. Out of all the missions you are trying to do it sounds like ag is the only one the 206 is better suited for. I've never flown a 480B, it sounds like a good tour ship but then again I don't know of anyone who uses them for that.

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1300, wow, I didnt realize they were that much lighter.

Im used to 1500-1650 on E's and F's

Other than the one less rotor blade, and I imagine some in the tail, and a bit in the T panel, where is the other weight lost?

 

Not sure, we have 369A's and MD considers them C or H equivalent and they are about 1280 lbs. basic weight. I know the fuselage is a little narrower than D's or E's.

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I've never flown a 480B, it sounds like a good tour ship but then again I don't know of anyone who uses them for that.

 

Yeah, too expensive just to do tours. The R44 is hard to beat and you can buy two with air conditioning for the price of a 480.

 

But if there was one laying around, it would make a great tour ship.....lots of visibility and power.

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If you can't make money with a 206 you can't make money.

 

The 206 does everything well enough to get the job done and has a slight advantage at extreme altitudes.

 

The 500 doesn't have a happy back seat for passengers.

 

For precision 133 work, the 500 has a left seat pilot position and crisp handling qualities.

 

For vertical placement of loads, 206 has slightly better resistance to settling with power.

 

A journeyman long-line pilot can work with either a 206 or a 500, but the 500 makes it easier for new guys and under some work situations (light loads and short distances) provides faster turn around times.

 

Bottom line, for versatility (to make money), go with the 206.

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